Actress Profile

Broadway's Leading Ladies: Donna Murphy

Kelly Ostazeski

Career highlights:

Donna Murphy was born on March 7, 1959 in Queens and was raised in New York and Massachusetts. She attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and studied with Stella Adler and at the Lee Strasburg Institute before dropping out after her sophomore year to audition.

 

She made her Broadway debut in They’re Playing Our Song as an understudy, then appeared off-Broadway in Francis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Birds of Paradise, and Privates on Parade. Her breakout roles were in the off-Broadway musicals Song of Singapore and Hello Again. She appears on the Hello Again cast recording.

 

In 1994 she was honored with the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her role as Fosca in Stephen Sondheim’s Passion. She became lifelong friends with her co-star, Marin Mazzie. Murphy won her second Tony Award in 1996 for her role of Anna Leonowens in a revival of The King and I, opposite Lou Diamond Philips.

 

Murphy took a break from the Broadway stage and switched over to film and television, and appeared in Star Trek Insurrection as Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart)’s love interest Anij, in The Nanny Diaries as Scarlett Johanssen’s mother, Spider Man 2 as Rosalie Octavius, and the iconic dance movie Center Stage as ballet teacher Juliette Simone.

 

She returned to the Broadway stage in 2003, where she appeared as Ruth Sherwood in the revival of Wonderful Town. This performance earned her a third Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk award. In 2007 she starred as Lotte Lenya opposite Michael Cerveris’s Kurt Weill, and received another Tony Nomination. She won the Drama Desk Award for playing Lenya, tying with Audra McDonald. She also appeared in the Encores! Production of Follies as Phyllis Rogers Stone. She performed Phyllis’s iconic song “Could I Leave You” at Stephen Sondheim’s birthday concert as well.

 

In 2011, Murphy appeared in The People in the Picture on Broadway, earning another Tony nomination. Also that year, she voiced the new Disney villain Mother Gothel in Tangled.  She has returned to voice Mother Gothel for the Tangled television series and for the video game Kingdom Hearts 3. The next year she appeared on stage in Central Park as the Witch in Into the Woods.

 

Murphy was cast in the PBS series Mercy Street, set during the Civil War. The show lasted for two seasons, ending in 2017.

 

In 2017 she returned to Broadway as Bette Midler’s alternate in the title role of Hello, Dolly! She played the role on Tuesday evenings and during Bette’s scheduled vacations. She left the production in January of 2018, and returned later as Bette’s alternate on Sunday matinees (and one Monday evening) for six more performances in the summer of 2018, playing her final show on August 20, 2018.

 

On October 22, 2018, the Abingdon Theatre Company honored Murphy and her career with a special gala and performance of the musical Closer Than Ever. She is set to appear in a new movie called Anastasia, about the Russian Grand Duchess, but unrelated to the Broadway musical or animated film. She reprised her role of Mother Gothel in the Disney video game Kingdom Hearts III.

 

Fun facts:

•         Murphy is the eldest of seven children

•         She was married to actor Shawn Elliott until his death in 2016. The two adopted a daughter from Guatemala. She is also the stepmother to Elliot’s two daughters.

•         Her television appearances include The Blacklist, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Murder One, What About Joan? (series regular), Ugly Betty, The Day Lincoln Was Shot (television movie), Royal Pains, and many more.

•         She won a Daytime Emmy Award for the television movie Someone Had to Be Benny, part of the series Life Stories: Families in Crisis.

•         Her other films include The Bourne Legacy, Dark Horse, No Pay Nudity, Higher Ground, World Trade Center, The Fountain, and The Astronaut’s Wife

 

Social media:

Facebook Page (Unverified): Donna Murphy (OfficialDonnaMurphyPage)

Twitter: @DMurphyOfficial
Instagram: @officialdonnamurphy

 

Songs to listen to:

“I Read” – Passion: Original Broadway Cast Recording
“Hello, Young Lovers” – The King and I: 1996 Broadway Revival Cast

“One Hundred Easy Ways” – Wonderful Town: 2003 Broadway Revival Cast

“Mother Knows Best” – Tangled

“Selective Memory” – The People in the Picture: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Broadway's Leading Ladies: Laura Michelle Kelly

Kelly Ostazeski

Career highlights:

 Laura Michelle Kelly was born on March 4, 1981 and was raised on a farm on the Isle of Wight, England. She took voice lessons as a child and participated in local productions before making her West End debut at the age of 16 in Beauty and the Beast as the understudy for Belle. Her other West End credits include Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind as Swallow, Mamma Mia! as Sophie, Les Misérables as Eponine, and My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle.

 In 2004 she made her Broadway debut as Hodel in the revival of Fiddler on the Roof with Alfred Molina. She is featured on the cast recording. She left the production because she was cast as the title role in the West End premiere of Mary Poppins. Her performance earned her the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

 She next appeared in A Twist of Fate in Singapore, and returned to the West End to play the role of Galadriel in the musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. At this time, she was also cast as the Beggar Woman in Tim Burton’s film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – yes, the film version starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. She also played a dual role in a television film Miss Marple: Nemesis. Laura then starred with Jeff Goldblum and Kevin Spacey in Speed-the-Plow at the Old Vic Theatre in London.

 In 2009 she returned to Broadway and to the role of Mary Poppins, starring alongside Christian Borle as Bert, and her original London Bert, Gavin Lee until 2011.  She took a brief hiatus from the Broadway production to film a movie in Australia called Goddess.

 At the Muny, she played the roles of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and Anna Leonowens in The King and I. Laura performed in the Kennedy Center Gala performances of My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle and Camelot as Guinevere.

 In 2014 she returned to Broadway in the musical Finding Neverland as the widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, and stayed with the production until its closing in 2016.

 She was cast as Anna Leonowens in the national tour of the Lincoln Center production of The King and I. After leaving the tour in early 2018, she starred alongside her former Bert, Christian Borle in the Encores! production of Me and My Girl. In the summer of 2018 she also performed in the new musical The Royal Family of Broadway at the Berkshires. On February 24, 2019, she will return to London and perform a solo concert at Cadogan Hall.


 Fun facts:

•         Laura has four brothers

•         She released her debut album in 2006, called The Storm Inside, and later, an alternate version with bonus tracks called What’s It All For? Laura wrote three of the songs on the album herself: “There Was a Time”, “Butterflies” (about her late mother), and “The Storm Inside

•         Laura and Gavin Lee performed “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in the television special America Celebrates July 4th in 2010 in front of President Obama.

•         Laura has a dog named Couver

•         She has performed in two solo concerts at 54Below, once in 2016 and once in 2017.

 Social media:

Twitter: @lauramkelly
Instagram: @lauramichellekelly

 Songs to listen to:

“All That Matters” – Finding Neverland: Original Broadway Cast Recording
“Lothlórien” – The Lord of the Rings Musical: Original London Cast Recording

“Wonder” – The Lord of the Rings Musical: Original London Cast Recording

“Feed the Birds” – Mary Poppins: Original London Cast Recording

“The Storm Inside” – Laura’s debut album The Storm Inside